Newsletter: Solarize Michigan Celebrates First Installation

This newsletter was originally published on May 30, 2016.

Solarize Michigan Celebrates First Installation

Solarize Michigan contractor (and Michigan EIBC member) The Green Panel this week began installing an 8.25 kW roof-mounted array in Sanford, located just west of Midland in Midland County – the first installation as part of Solarize Michigan. An initiative of the Institute for Energy Innovation, Solarize Michigan works to remove or reduce the barriers that too often stop people from going solar, including a lack of information, up-front costs, confusion over the permitting and inspection process, and customer inertia. The Sanford installation will include 30 275W Suniva Black-on-Black panels, part of an exclusive arrangement under Solarize Michigan through Suniva and Michigan EIBC member McNaughton McKay that provides a significant discount for these Saginaw-made panels.

Solarize Michigan started in March as an effort to make solar a simpler and more affordable option for households and business owners in Bay, Midland, and Saginaw counties. Throughout March, the campaign held workshops to highlight how solar power works in Michigan, how they can make it work for their home and how they could afford it. In April, those who signed up at were given a free solar assessment to determine whether their home was a good fit for solar. Now residents are working with the three pre-approved installers – The Green Panel, fellow Michigan EIBC member Michigan Solar Solutions, and Midland Solar Applications – to get solar panels at their home at a discount, helping them save on their power bill for years to come.

The campaign will be continuing sign-ups and installations on a rolling-basis until October. If you know anyone with a home or business within the three counties interested in solar power, let them know they can get a free, no obligation solar assessment by signing up at Solarize Michigan.


Senate Stalls on Rewrite of Michigan Energy Laws

The Michigan Senate failed this week to advance a pair of energy bills that would repeal the renewable portfolio standard, phase out the energy optimization standard and would add a new, one-sided cost to customers installing distributed generation systems, among a host of other changes.

The bills – SB 437 and 438 – were reported out of the Senate Energy and Technology Committee last week, and committee chair Mike Nofs had hoped to see the full Senate take action this week before the Senate broke for the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference. But the complexity of the bills, the short time to review the legislation over the Memorial Day weekend, and broad opposition – including news that the bills would cost ratepayers an additional $4.4 billion over the next ten years – stalled the package. The Senate could take up the legislation as soon as it returns on Tuesday.

Some of the more notable changes to current law include:

  • Creates a new integrated resource planning (IRP) process where utilities would submit plans to be reviewed by the Michigan Public Service Commission in a contested case, and where any investments covered in the IRP would be deemed reasonable and prudent;
  • Repeals the renewable portfolio standard (RPS), and substitutes it with a 35% combined goal for renewable energy and energy efficiency to be evaluated in the IRP. The legislation also includes a 10% floor for renewable energy, though this requirement applies only to investor-owned utilities (not cooperatives or municipally-owned utilities);
  • Delays repeal of the energy optimization (EO) program for electric utilities until January 1, 2021, with efficiency investments considered under the IRP;
  • Adds a new “grid usage charge” for customers installing distributed generation systems. Notably, those currently under net metering would be grandfathered, and the previous language to move to a sell-all, buy-all requirement has been eliminated;
  • Adds requirements that require alternative electric suppliers (AESes) to demonstrate adequate capacity to cover their customer load;
  • Adds a new green pricing program to allow for voluntary purchases of renewable energy;
  • Adds additional consideration for demand response and demand management as part of the IRP;
  • Redefines renewable energy to include incineration, new hydroelectric, and pyrolysis, as well as removing the requirement that biomass be sustainability managed;
  • Expands opportunities for cogeneration;
  • Broadens the scope and adds funding for the Utility Consumer Participation Board;
  • Amends the utility code of conduct to allow utilities greater flexibility in entering non-regulated market sectors, including allowing utilities to offer sales of steam and to own inverters for distributed solar generation systems

There is still time to contact your State Senator and ask them to ensure that any legislation passed protects ratepayers, expands renewable energy and energy efficiency, provides meaningful market access for independent renewable energy developers, and ensures those who generate their own power are not burdened with arbitrary additional charges.


New/Renewing Members

Renovate America

Renovate America provides the fastest-growing energy efficiency financing solution in the country. The company’s HERO Program uses the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) model to allow property owners to pay for improvements that reduce energy or water consumption, over time through a line item on their taxes. Nine out of 10 residential PACE projects nationwide are HERO projects.


Michigan Energy News

Michigan EIBC President Liesl Eichler Clark penned an op-ed in the Lansing State Journal about the economic importance of growing the state’s renewable portfolio standard.

The Michigan Freedom Fund and Energy Choice Now remain opposed to SB 437 due to the changes to retail open access, MIRS reports.

Businesses like Ben & Jerry’s, Brewery Vivant, Eileen Fisher, General Mills, Nestle, JLL, Johnson Controls, Schneider Electric and Worthen Industries all called on the Senate Energy Policy committee to increase the state’s use of advanced energy, MIRS reports

Midland-based XALT Energy this week announced that a decision by the Chinese government limiting which companies were authorized to serve the Chinese battery market was resulting in the laying off of 100 employees.

Saulius Mikalonis wrote a guest blog in Crain’s Detroit Business about recent legislation improving energy efficiency.

Michigan has 10,000 sites capable of deploying more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity from combined heat and power systems, according to Greg Northrup of Michigan EIBC member company Sustainable Partners, Midwest Energy News reports.

A Sanilac county judge will not force the Bridgehampton Township Planning Commission to hold a public hearing on Exelon’s 50-turbine wind farm proposal, the Times-Herald reports.

Sam Gomberg of the Union of Concerned Scientists highlights the advantages of having state green banks. Michigan Radio has the story.

The “Powering Michigan Agriculture with Renewable Energy” conference from last March has released all presentations online; you can read about the day here.


National Energy News

For the first time, there are more Americans working in clean energy than in the oil-drilling industry, Bloomberg reports.

The Edison Electric Institute, a think tank serving the U.S. utility industry, together with the Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles project coordinated by the World Wildlife Fund and the World Resources Institute, hosted a “strategic dialogue” around Creating Renewable Energy Opportunities.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory released its top 10 utility advanced energy projects of 2015, Solar Industry Mag reports.

Federal energy legislation is moving to conference committee, the Hill reports. Both the House and Senate have passed competing versions of the legislation, and the conference committee will work to reconcile the differences.

Exelon announced plans to close two nuclear plants in Illinois. The two plants had lost $800 million over the last seven years as they were displaced by cheaper natural gas and renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of the Interior added 81,000 acres off the coast of New York to areas open for offshore wind development.

There are congressional attempts to defund the EPA’s work on the Clean Power Plan, should the Supreme Court uphold the rule. Morning Consult has the story.

General Electric believes that there is no hard limit on renewables to the grid in North America, Utility Products reports.

Whirlpool is building a wind farm in Ohio to power their Marion and Ottawa plants, PennEnergy reports.


Michigan Events
Michigan EIBC will be hosting its next Michigan Energy Forum on Monday, June 6, from 9:45 to 11:30 a.m., at LIFT (Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow) in Detroit. Register here.
An advanced combined heat, power, and cooling system – CHP+ Cooling or “Tri-generation” – will be on display at the 2016 HBA Grand Traverse Home Show, in Traverse City on June 11-12, and June 16-19. If you would like to arrange a more in-depth tour of the system, please contact Bob Fegan at DTE Energy at

Lean and Green Michigan is hosting a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Contractor Training on Thursday, June 23 at the Keith Center Lecture Hall at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. For more information, contact Kyle Peczynski of Petros PACE Financing LLC at or 734-718-8404.

The Great Lakes Renewable Energy Association is hosting the Michigan Energy Fair on June 24-25 at the Ingham County Fairgrounds in Mason. This year’s Fair also boasts the Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo and the Sustainable Living Summit 2016.

The 2016 Michigan Energy Providers Conference will take place on July 27-29 at Crystal Mountain Resort and Spa in Thompsonville. Michigan EIBC is a Gold sponsor for this event

National Events
Intersolar North America will take place July 12-14 in San Francisco.
Solar Power International is scheduled for September 12-15 in Las Vegas.
The Battery Show, collocated with the Critical Power Expo and Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, will be held in Novi from September 13-15.

Additional Resources
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is home to PowerSuite, a suite of tools that allows companies a one-stop on-line portal to search, track, and collaborate on state legislation and regulatory proceedings from around the country.
PowerSuite includes both BillBoard, the AEE dashboard for managing state legislation, and DocketDash, the AEE dashboard for managing state public utility commission proceedings. Subscription required. is a national solar permitting database that provides information on permitting for solar in jurisdictions across the country. The database includes a variety of information, from average permit turnaround times, to information required to be included in the permit, to contact information for individual jurisdictions. You can browse the requirements for the Michigan cities included in the database here.
The U.S. Department of Energy is offering A Guide to Federal Finance Facilities Available for Energy Efficiency Upgrades and Clean Energy Deployment. The downloadable guide provides information about the various federal financing programs available for energy efficiency and renewable energy — making it easier for state, local and tribal leaders, along with their partners in the private sector, to find capital for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Department of Energy has offers free public access to accepted peer-reviewed manuscripts or published scientific journal articles from projects funded by the DOE within 12 months of publication.